Over the past 18 years we have had many successes. Our land rights campaigns which began in 1990 have been very successful with many millions of hectares of traditional lands returned to traditional owners. As well as land justice, our various initiatives concerning social, economic and cultural development have yielded considerable and exciting success.
There is much outside opinion held by the wider Indigenous and non-Indigenous public that is completely unaware of the progress we have made. Much of these external views focuses on our continuing challenges and the cyclical crises that explode in media reports, however, our story of success is real and mostly underreported.
We have fanned the flames of aspiration and ambition in parents for their children and this is evidenced in the great successes we are having with our secondary and tertiary leadership programs. We have hundreds of graduates of these programs who are now university graduates and secondary school retentions to year 12 have grown. These young people form the basis of our future leadership. Our adult leadership programs have similarly been greatly successful. Education in our Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy has fundamentally improved teaching and learning for our primary school students.
There are many areas associated with our Cape York Welfare Reform trial where we are so excited and pleased with the progress we have made and this is evidenced in the data we rigorously collect and report on in the regular Family Empowerment Reports.
We believe there is a considerable gap between the successes we have achieved and wider community understanding of this progress. It is a gap we are conscious needs to be addressed however the point to understand now is that the success we have had underpins our confidence in the agenda going forward.
WE HAVE LEARNT MANY THINGS ABOUT WHAT WORKS.
We have learnt that certain incentives produce certain responses. In crafting our Pama Futures agenda we are able to learn from the things that have succeeded during the Cape York Welfare Reform trial and our work extending back to 1990.
When we commenced Cape York Partnerships we were conscious that many of our initiatives would require piloting and trial. We did not know whether some of the interventions we proposed would succeed. This was of course to be expected: there is no guarantee that plans and intentions will pan out in practice.
Before scaling any program we needed to conduct some implementation trials: we have now done this, we have learnt the lessons and are now in a very good position to implement the lessons we have learnt.
WE HAVE ALSO LEARNT FROM OUR FAILURES. IN FACT THE POINT IS OFTEN MADE IN BUSINESS THAT THE GREATEST LESSONS COME FROM FAILURE.
Our Cape York Welfare Reform trial did not succeed with home ownership for example. We are still facing a brick wall in relation to our aspiration for families to own their own homes. It is not for want of trying and we applied a great deal of policy advocacy in relation to housing and we garnered support from government at various times, however success did not ensue.
We are learning from our failure and we have not abandoned the home ownership agenda.
There are other initiatives that have been partly successful and we have learnt lessons about how those initiatives might be redesigned and tackled in a different way. There are very important implementation lessons we have garnered over the past decade. Our intention was to implement trials from which we could learn and this we have done. We have learnt many lessons in relation to implementation and scaling success. Indeed the main lesson we have learnt is that implementation is nearly everything.
We are good at designing compelling and effective interventions, however we know only too well that it all comes down to implementation in the end: successful program implementation is crucial. We have learnt many lessons and we have become very good at program implementation.
Implementation is always at the forefront of our minds and our track record is constantly improving in relation to our capabilities and experience in making the rubber hit the road and sustaining the operational success of initiatives.
WE HAVE LEARNT FROM IMPLEMENTATION OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES THAT THE CAPACITY TO LEARN AND TO ADAPT AS WE MOVE FORWARD IS CRUCIAL.
Adaptation is absolutely key to successful development. It is one thing to make a plan at the beginning to reach a certain destination, but to get there requires tacking and change of direction according to the prevailing circumstances.
Mistakes are part and parcel of the challenge.
Some of our plans will simply not work out. Some of our plans will half work out and half fail. That is why we must take a positive attitude towards the mistakes, to anticipate that we will make them and to constantly have an eye to learning from the mistakes and adapting our plans for the future. The destination is very clear but the means by which we get there never are.
We have very good ideas and some of our initial plans are indeed cogent and well thought out, however learning is part of the whole journey. So we intend to build into our implementation going forward a continual process of learning from our mistakes and adapting our implementation practice.
We have a very firm belief that we will learn more from our mistakes than we will from our successes, and this is fundamental to our reform journey.